The foster care system in the United States plays a vital role in ensuring that kids from unstable families or those who have lost their parents and have no relatives grow up in a safe and loving environment.
However, not all foster care homes provide the nurturing needed. Therefore, you must research and learn the processes to provide these kids with a safe and nurturing environment.
While adoption is beautiful, parents face myriad challenges when parenting these kids, as they need a lot of patience, love, and constant assurance. This article explores the challenges parents looking to adopt foster kids face in the United States.
Rigorous Licensing Process
The approval process to be a foster parent may take at least six months to a year, which is quite long. The road is usually rocky, filled with extensive interviews, background checks, home checks, and inspections.
During the interview, expect questions about your upbringing, relationships with friends and families, and mental fitness. The questions can get a bit personal and may cause discomfort to many.
The background checks verify the information you have given, including your references and financial statements. For home improvement, reviews by the state officer may mandate that you are funded by someone other than the state, and many are very expensive and time-consuming to do.
The Age Factor
Age is an issue of concern when making adoption arrangements. If you want to adopt an infant or toddler, the foster care system is not the go-to. Most children are, on average, eight years and above.
You can still get a child of lower age; it, however, implies that you are more likely to succeed with private agencies to adopt an infant or even a toddler.
Many foster parents are usually unwilling to adopt older children due to the challenges of integrating them completely into their families. You may as well adopt a teenager or an adult by going through an adult adoption process.
The process is relatively more straightforward as it only emphasizes the consent of both the adopter and the adopted. The process will, however, vary from state to state. For instance, adult adoption in Georgia will only require the consent of both parties regardless of the age limit. In contrast, California limits the process expecting an age difference of at least ten years.
Little Or No History Of The Child Under Care
Many children in foster care have little or no information gathered on them. It is not usually alarming to know, as many come from irresponsible caregivers.
The children might also know very little about their biological parents, and some might be unwilling to disclose information due to trauma from physical and emotional abuse.
This makes it difficult to care for these kids without knowledge of their past lives. Therefore, the adoptive parent must be patient, attentive, and loving to foster kids to help compensate for their history.
Being a foster parent, you do not have legal rights over the children in care. You must, therefore, always coordinate with legally appointed guardians for every child’s needs.
The time spent with foster kids is also unstable as it depends on the time to re-integrate the child with biological parents or look for a forever home. On average, foster children spend at least two years with foster parents, with a little over 6% spending five years.
The uncertainty of the future is limiting to the adopting parents as they cannot plan. It means making plans such as opening trusts for their college education or making financial decisions for adopted kids in general becomes tough. It is, therefore, necessary to ask for early information from the state careers so that you understand how to make short-term plans or longer-term plans.
Straight from the licensing stage, prospective foster parents get a feel of the restrictiveness associated with the foster care system. The rules are typically placed to ensure that the children are raised in a child-friendly environment that allows them to express themselves. The rules, however, cut too deep for some people.
For instance, foster parents are limited to relocating to other states; they are also limited in how to design their homes, having to follow the rules associated with home safety.
The rules will also dictate issues such as storing medication and alcohol, attending play dates, and visiting friends and other families. Such laws can be frustrating to children and foster parents and pose losing the little rights you have over the kids.
Children in foster care are primarily in it due to some traumatizing situations. Most have been exposed to physical and emotional abuse, leading to depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Some have been victims of rape, drug abuse, and other brutal situations.
As an adoptive parent, it may be challenging to help these kids, especially if you are not knowledgeable of their history or have not experienced or dealt with such needs.
The training during licensing may not do justice to help you better understand your foster kids, which will require you to put a little more effort into fact findings of the different needs of the specified child.
Most adopted kids from foster care have been through hell and back; therefore, they might experience behavioral challenges due to emotional turmoil, including self-esteem issues and anger management.
You must know how to handle episodes that can occur calmly, reassuring and disciplining them. It would help if you learned a bit about it during your training. You can also enroll them in therapy.
Before becoming a foster parent, one must gather as much information as possible regarding the process in one’s state of residence. And before adopting from foster care, you must ensure that the biological parents will not claim the child in the future.
It is also essential to hear from other foster parents to get a perspective on the foster system. By identifying the benefits and challenges, you can make an informed decision on whether to adopt or not.